Bordeaux: AOC Spotlight

french-vineyard-01-300x200Bordeaux is an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) regulated region in France that’s known for producing some of the world’s finest red and white wine varieties. With a total vineyard area spanning over 120,000 hectares, it’s also the country’s largest wine-producing area. Like all AOC regions, though, there are certain regulations and rules wineries must follow to legally place the ‘AOC’ sticker on their product.

While no one knows who planted the first grape vine in France’s Bordeaux region, historians believe it was the Romans who originally brought it over around 500-600 AD. Locals used grapes as both a source of food and for producing wine. It wasn’t until 1855 when the Bordeaux region was officially classified. And while standards and regulations have changed throughout the years, the Bordeaux classification is still widely used and accepted.

Why Bordeaux Is Known For Producing Fine Wines

The quality of wine ultimately boils down to terrior – the geography and climate of a specific region. Bordeaux offers a particularly beneficial area to produce wine thanks to several different elements, one of which is its calcium-rich limestone foundation. This calcium seeps up from the Earth’s crust where it settles in the soil. Vineyards grown here are able to absorb this key nutrient, resulting in bigger, healthier wine grapes.

There are also plenty of rivers, streams and tributaries running through the Bordeaux region. Like all AOC-produced wine, Bordeaux must be naturally irrigated, so these rivers help to prevent droughts and dehydration. The nutrient-rich soil holds water well, allowing vineyards to go for extended lengths of time without rain.

AOC-Permitted Bordeaux Grapes:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Petit Verdot
  • Malbec
  • Petit
  • Carménère

Leading Bordeaux Wineries

Thinking of taking a trip to the Bordeaux region? With thousands of different wineries spanning across this massive stretch of land, trying to choose a winery to visit may pose a challenge to first-time tourists. While you can always ask the locals for recommendations, we’ve covered a couple of our top picks below.

  • Sauternes – This is an excellent choice for individuals looking to experience some white Bordeux wine varieties. Sauternes produces a few differed red varieties, but they are most known for their white and ultra-sweet dessert wines.
  • Saint-Émilion – Although this isn’t technically a winery, Saint-Émilion is still worth noting in this post. Nestled inside the Bordeux region, this historic French town offers several wineries that specialize in fine red wine.
  •  Médoc – Located in the Gironde, this is another Bordeux area that’s worth checking out if you enjoy red wine.  There are around 240 independent wineries located here, most of which focus on Merlot.

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